Brown, Jennfier. Hate List. Little Brown Books for Young Readers. 2009. ISBN 0316041440
Reader’s Annotation: Five months after Valerie’s boyfriend, Nick, opened fire in their school cafeteria Valerie must now return to school. She’s haunted by the guilt of the part she played in the tragedy and can she overcome it to move on with her life?
Plot Summary: Valerie and her boyfriend Nick made a list, a hate list, of people they hated but Valerie never expected things to go beyond that. Then Nick opens fire one day in the school cafeteria using the hate list to pick his targets. After a summer away from school Valerie must return to school for her senior year and face those who blamed her for playing a part in this tragedy. Can Valerie find a way to make amends and move on with her life?
Upon finishing this book I sat there feeling stunned by how disturbing this book was and yet how touching it was. Each chapter of the book opens with pieces of news articles talking about the shooting and the reader has to put together these pieces to figure out what happens. At the same time we read about Valerie’s recovery from being shot while trying to stop Nick during his shooting spree. It’s heartbreaking reading about how Valerie was picked on and teased to the point where she made this list with Nick. I know there are many teens out there who live in this situation almost every day. They are the outcasts, the nerds, the rejects, etc. This story shows that these teens have feelings to and other teens need to realize this when they choose to bully or ridicule someone else.
The reactions of those around Valerie are frustrating because we see what Valerie is feeling and yet it’s so realistic that you can see why they behave that way. The mix of feelings the book evokes will leave you feeling like you have been on an emotional roller coaster but I feel like the message this book delivers is so important.
About the author
Jennifer used to write a weekly humor column in The Kansas City Star for over four years until she quit to focus on writing full time. Hate List was Jennifer’s debut book and was a big hit. It was chosen for ALA’s Best Book for Young Adults, a VOYA “Perfect Ten” book and a School Library Journal Best Book of the Year.
Jennifer’s second book, Bitter End, that came out in 2011 deals with another difficult issue about a young girl and her abusive and controlling boyfriend. It also received many positive reviews and made the YALSA’s 2012 Best Fiction for Young Adults list.
Book talking idea
Have you ever said something hurtful to someone else that you regretted afterwards? Did you ever approach them to say you were sorry?
Ages 14 and up.
Why did I include this book?
Shootings in school are unfortunately becoming much more common these days and often time boil down to the shooters feeling alienated, bullied or relentlessly teased by their classmates. I felt like this book would make a great read to see the consequences and reactions on all sides to such an emotional event.